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Kanawha senator wants to introduce bill to fund libraries

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sen. Brooks McCabe, D-Kanawha, said Thursday he hopes to introduce a bill next week that would restore some of the $3 million of funding the Kanawha County Public Library lost when the state Supreme Court struck down a law requiring the country Board of Education to fund the library.

McCabe said he wants a collaborative funding effort to serve both public libraries and public schools in the counties that had Board of Education library subsidies overturned by the Feb. 22 court ruling.

"We've got to find a way to better fund our public libraries in our communities," he said.

McCabe said he wants to review the proposal with legislators before discussing specifics of the funding plan.

He made the comments following the Department of Education and the Arts' budget presentation to the Senate Finance Committee.

During Library Commission Secretary Karen Goff's presentation, McCabe asked, "Doesn't it make sense to bring more closely together our public libraries with our county public education programs?"

Goff answered, "I firmly believe public libraries and public education are partners with the same goal of an educated citizenry."

Also during budget presentations Tuesday:

  • Scott Finn, new Educational Broadcasting Authority executive director, said West Virginia Public Broadcasting gets proportionately more state funding than similar networks in other states.
  • But, Finn said, there's a reason for that.

    It takes 28 transmission towers to get Public Broadcasting's radio and TV broadcasts to all parts of West Virginia, he said.

    By comparison, the public television station where he worked previously, WUSF in Tampa, Florida, reaches 2.8 million viewers -- from a single tower.

    About 17 percent of West Virginia public television viewers rely on the over-the-air broadcasts because they do not have cable or satellite TV subscriptions, Finn said.

    "We might be the only educational programming some of these low-income people are getting," Finn said.

    He also noted, "I think we can do a lot more to increase our underwriting, our grants and our membership."

  • Culture and History's website receives nearly 1 million hits a day, according to Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith.
  • The primary drivers are people doing genealogy research, and schoolchildren using the website's "Quick Quiz" feature to prepare for the Golden Horseshoe test or the division's History Bowl competition, he said.

    Also, during the national telecast of the "Hatfields & McCoys" miniseries, the site drew nearly 28 million hits in three days, including more than 13 million on the day of the series' finale.

  • The federal budget sequester stands to cost the state Division of Rehabilitation Services $1.2 million in federal funding next budget year, according to acting director Donna Ashworth. That would eliminate services for about 590 people, she said.
  • Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.


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